According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the first known use of the term “externship” dates back to 1945. However—until recently—most students were entirely unfamiliar with the concept. And many people still don’t know what they are, or why they’re important.
According to Dana Bernard, CEO of The Learning Oasis, similar to an apprenticeship or internship, an externship is typically a training program offered by educational institutions and private businesses that give students brief practical experiences in their field of study.
Are externships important?
Bernard says they are critical. During their externships, students will often become involved in projects, sit in on meetings, and meet other members of the organization, she says. “Not only do students get to see the career area first-hand, but they also have the opportunity to ask their host and others questions that they have about the role or industry, through informational interviewing. This allows the student to get a true picture of the context of the work, real-life challenges, and the structure of a typical work day or week.”
Developing a network of professionals in the new career field is important as you begin a job search; and in fact, a career network is something that you should develop and maintain throughout your entire career. At your externship you have the opportunity to meet people who are currently working in the field you want to enter. Be sure to make a good impression on the people you meet, and demonstrate your commitment through hard work. Get to know the names of your co-workers, and ask for their contact information so that you can keep in touch with them after your externship is over. The more people you know, the more likely you are to hear of job leads and other professionals opportunities.
With these benefits in mind, there are many reasons to take your externship seriously. Best wishes on this first step into your new career!